Bullets & Caps President Susan O'Malley is the cover story in an extensive feature by Michael Abramowitz in the WASHINGTON POST MAGAZINE under the header, "Hard Sell." The sub-head notes at 35, O'Malley "has risen to the top of the pro sports business. She has turned her success into a public fable, a motivational speech. But how much credit has she really earned?" Abramowitz writes O'Malley is "arguably the most accomplished woman in her field. She has much praise and criticism heaped upon her by others, but the only real claim she makes for herself in public ... is that she has helped raise the Bullets from the dregs of the NBA to box office success, building a platform for (still anticipated) on-court success as well." Bullets & Caps Owner Abe Pollin: "She is very, very tough, but very fair, and that's the way I like it." Abramowitz adds that O'Malley's critics "range from those who have clashed with her in office struggles or been forced out during reorganizations to colleagues in the NBA who have nothing personal against her but who question whether O'Malley's business achievements are all that they seem. ... Does O'Malley threaten some people in the pro basketball and hockey worlds because she is a woman in a position of power? Definitely. Does she deserve either as much credit as she gives herself or as much criticism as her enemies hurl at her? Very much debatable -- and very actively debated." FORCED SELLOUTS? Abramowitz notes that O'Malley "brought to the Bullets a definite philosophy about marketing the team: that the best way to create demand was to create the perception that Bullets tickets were scarce." O'Malley says she set about "forcing sellouts," abandoning a plan that allowed partial season ticket holders to pick any ten games they wanted and, instead, picking the games for them. Abramowitz notes the move "immediately ensured a sizable base of fans for at least a quarter of the home games." Bullets attendance rose "impressively ... but soon the whispers started that her numbers were inflated, that the Bullets were giving tickets away to sponsors -- or at least discounting many so heavily that the turnstile numbers were meaningless. ... Such criticism is buttressed by sources who have seen confidential NBA financial data that show the Bullets' gate receipts remained among the lowest in the league, even as their reported attendance rose during O'Malley's tenure" (WASHINGTON POST MAGAZINE, 1/12).
The Ravens "are close" to completing a deal with Western Maryland College to make it their training camp home for the next three years (Baltimore SUN, 1/14)....Reported Blue Jays suitor Murray Frum and his advisor, Capital Canada Ltd. CEO Robert Foster, said all the investors in their prospective group are Canadian. Foster: "There is no U.S. money in the group" (TORONTO SUN, 1/14)....The Knicks received a new chartered plane, a "gift" from ITT. They will share the plane with the NHL Rangers (NEWSDAY, 1/14). ...The Rangers introduced their new "alternative jersey" last night against the Islanders. Jay Greenberg of the N.Y. POST: "Has hockey become so devoid of color that the only way to brighten it is by changing jerseys? In the absence of new stars, do we have to settle for new teams with new schemes? ... Granted, the Rangers are only going to wear these things about six times a season. For a team with their history, it is six times too many" (N.Y. POST, 1/14). N.Y. DAILY NEWS columnist Frank Brown: "Under Lady Liberty's chin sat a brief, to-the-point 'NYR,' which made the whole thing look like a license plate" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/14). ESPN's Linda Cohn, on the jersey: "Why do I think of the final scene of the Planet of the Apes" ("SportsCenter," 1/13)....The Dolphins will unveil their uniform and logo alterations today. Fans linked to the Internet can ask team President Eddie Jones questions about the changes at 2pm ET at http//pwr.com/ dolphins (MIAMI HERALD, 1/14)...."CBS Evening News" ran an "Editor's Note" during last night's newscast on sexual assault charges being dropped against the Cowboys' Michael Irvin and Erik Williams. CBS's Dan Rather: "In fairness, and for thoroughness and accuracy, we wanted to make sure you knew" ("CBS Evening News," 1/13).
General Motors said it will drop its complaint against Reds Owner Marge Schott if her Chevrolet-GEO dealership is sold by February 20, according to Geoff Hobson of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. A sale of the dealership is "imminent" to Joseph Auto Group, and GM is "expected" to approve the sale. Meanwhile, the state of Ohio has "no plans" to pursue revoking Schott's dealership license despite GM's allegations she faked 57 car sales. Jeffrey Coleman, chief of dealers licensing for the Ohio Motor Vehicle Dealers Board: "There is nothing in GM's motion or the accompanying affidavits which appears to constitute violations over which the Bureau has any jurisdiction." Schott still faces a review by MLB, and one MLB owner told the ENQUIRER's Hobson that he "expected" the issue to be raised this week when the owners meet in Scottsdale, AZ (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/14).
The Red Dogs, the nickname and mascot for the new AFL team in New Jersey, have "angered civic organizations dedicated to alerting the public to the dangers of alcohol abuse" but there is also the "situation of having a team associated with one brewing company playing its home games at a facility where another brewer enjoys exclusive beer- selling rights," according to Guy Sterling of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The name was selected in a franchise naming contest, and team officials liked the name, "both for its connection with football ... as well as its commercial potential." "Red Dog" is a beer distributed by the Miller Brewing Co. Team CEO Jim Leahy: "When we picked the name, we thought if we could go to Miller and get a sponsorship out of it, we'd have the best of all worlds." Miller signed on as a sponsor, but the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority, overseer of the Meadowlands, is "not keen" on the team's choice. The Red Dogs will play at Continental Airlines Arena, where Budweiser holds pouring rights and Anheuser- Busch is a major sponsor of the NJSEA. Authority President & CEO Robert Mulcahy III says the dispute between the brewing companies has yet to be resolved, but should be this week (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/12).